KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 — Health authorities said they will conduct mass testing for Covid-19 in hotspot areas, targeting groups like tabligh participants and Rohingya refugees.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the Ministry of Health (MOH) will increase testing to 16,000 tests daily next week, from the current 6,000 tests a day, and will look at the effectiveness of antigen rapid test kits this Friday.
MOH currently has 18 labs, plus five from the private sector, to analyse coronavirus tests.
“So we look now in hotspot areas, when we’ve done MCO (Movement Control Order) there, we will identify. So targeted groups, like tabligh and others, we will do screening,” Dr Noor Hisham said in a press conference, referring to participants at the Muslim religious gathering at Sri Petaling mosque early this month.
“For example, Rohingya refugees, we’ll do screening and we will diagnose them, and if positive, we’ll isolate and treat them. That’s the concept — active case detection, using mass diagnosis.”
Some 200 Rohingya refugees reportedly attended the tabligh gathering.
The top three infected areas, according to MOH today, are Lembah Pantai, Kuala Lumpur (167 cases); Petaling, Selangor (158); and Hulu Langat, Selangor (103). This is followed by Seremban, Negri Sembilan (74); Johor Baru, Johor (59); Gombak, Selangor (50); Titiwangsa, Kuala Lumpur (46); and Kota Baru, Kelantan (43). Red zones are areas with more than 40 cases.
“We hope that we can detect, ensure positive cases, isolate positive cases, and treat them,” Dr Noor Hisham said.
“We hope that with our actions, we can reduce the cases so it doesn’t reach 6,000,” he added, referring to research house JP Morgan’s estimate of about 6,300 Covid-19 cases in Malaysia in mid-April.
The Health DG said MOH is planning to increase the number of ventilators to 500 for Covid-19 patients. The private sector has also loaned 60 ventilators to MOH.
MOH has also prepared 3,400 beds for coronavirus patients, with plans to add another 1,892 beds in MOH training institutes, totalling nearly 5,300 beds. The beds in training institutes, said Dr Noor Hisham, will be allocated to patients with mild or no symptoms, while hospital beds can be reserved for moderate and critical Covid-19 cases.
Doctors have urged health authorities to conduct mass testing in the community to detect asymptomatic people.
Former Federation of Private Medical Practitioners Associations, Malaysia (FPMPAM) president Dr Milton Lum wrote today that official Covid-19 data reported daily do not reflect the actual situation, pointing out that about 80 per cent of infected people — according to the World Health Organization’s report on the outbreak in China, where coronavirus originated from — had no or mild symptoms.